Banana Cake – 1929

This recipe called to me the minute that I read it.  I love banana bread, but sometimes banana bread can be… well, just kind of boring.  So when Pa gave me the Falconer Home Bureau Unit cookbook from 1929 and I saw the recipe for Banana Cake, I knew I’d  have to give it a shot.

My bananas were still a bit green, but I think that helped with the recipe.  Now the recipe calls for “sour milk”.  You do not have to leave a carton of milk in your fridge until a month after the expiration date.  Take a cup of milk and add about 1 tsp. of vinegar, stirring it together immediately.  Let it sit for about 2 or 3 minutes.  It will take on the consistency of buttermilk.  It adds a tang to the cake, and it’s easy!

Banana Cake

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs well beaten, 1/2 cup butter softened, 2 bananas sliced thin, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon soda, 1 cup sour milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs and bananas.  Sift flour, soda and baking powder together and add alternately with sour milk; add vanilla. Bake 30 minutes in a moderate oven in a 9X12 shallow pan.  Cover with whipped cream and sliced bananas.

What I did!

As stated, I do not have sour milk just hanging around, so add a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of  milk.  I creamed the butter and sugar with a mixer, added the eggs and the bananas and beat it with the mixer as well.  Add about half of the milk and mix, then half the flour mixture – mix.  Add the remaining milk and then mix, and finally the last of the flour, mixing it to just combine and remove lumps.  Do not forget to grease and flour your cake pan, otherwise you are up the creek with no paddle.

Spread your batter into the greased and floured pan.  The recipe states a “moderate” oven.  Pretty much any cake will bake properly at 375F, which is what I baked this at, and only for 25 minutes instead of the called for 30 minutes.  You know your cake is done when you can press on the top and it springs back slightly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some crumb.

I wrestled with the idea of just using the whipped cream and sliced bananas on top, but decided to go for a homemade cream cheese frosting.  It is very simple:  8 oz. package of cream cheese, 1/2 stick of butter softened, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and a smidgeon of vanilla. Make sure your cream cheese and butter are VERY soft, otherwise you will end up with lumps in your frosting, like I did!  If it seems too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk and combine.  Frost the cake!

EAT THE CAKE!  It’s really, really, really good.

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Adventures in Canningland Pt. 2

Today was a nice cool day, so I decided to get the hot sauce done and bottled up.  Not much exciting to report beyond pictures!

Roasting garlic! Drizzle with olive oil and make a foil packet.

Wash your peppers good.  These now go on the grill.  Be very cautious.  While we were grilling them, they puffed up, and the violent oils start to steam, and that steam is lethal, especially the ghost chilis.  We were coughing and hacking, eyes burning about 20 feet away.  They really need to be handled with great caution.  Char your chilis nicely… let them sit, overnight even.  Peel the skin off, although you will not need to worry about getting every single piece off of it, as it will be removed during the milling process.

This is what the peppers look like after roasting and most of the skins removed.  I also wrapped a large onion in foil and set that on the grill to roast all day.  The result is pretty spectacular.


Stir, stir, stir, stir.
Milling the sauce.  I can do nothing without making a mess.
Perfect consistency!
Finished product.
This is a great batch of sauce, and I had fun doing it.

Adventures in Canningland Pt. 1


Today is the first day of my week-long vacation.  I had planned on spending the day slaving over the pots and bottles involved with making homemade hot sauce.  Naturally, it had to be 80+ degrees out today, so that quickly got scratched. However, I have pretty much gathered everything together that is needed, so that tomorrow I will be able to get everything going without much prep.  Smart move on my part!

This post will be quite heavy with pictures, so please be patient and wait for everything to load.  While I’m not the world’s most awesome photographer, hopefully they will be interesting and add spice to the post.  Spice… hot sauce… yeah, I am a regular Shakespeare here!

First off, it’s always important to have a baseline on how to make hot sauce.  I know that I have an old recipe from like the Middle Ages, but can I find it?  Absolutely not!  So I am pulling from two different recipes – one in an old cookbook from a church, and an internet recipe.

Hot sauce can be a tricky beast.  Half the time a recipe will not tell you what type of hot pepper to use.  So you have to know your limits on the “Oh my god this is so hot I’m going to die” scale.  I am using three types of hot peppers for my sauce:

Starting with the upper left we have Habenero peppers.  Lethal in their own right, coming in at 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale, but wonderful flavor.  The largest peppers are the hot Hungarian peppers.  In my experience, you never know exactly how hot these puppies will be until you are halfway through it, thinking everything is cool.  They generally rate between 3,500-8,000 on the Scoville scale. Lastly on the lower left is the ghastly Ghost Chili.  It is most commonly used to make police grade pepper sprays, and clocks in at well over 1,000,000 Scoville units.  Needless to say, I may not use all of these.  A very kind gentleman in Erie allowed us to take a few for our sauce.  Thank you, kind gentleman in Erie. The plan with all of these lethal little buggers is to throw them on the grill in the morning and get them nice and charred.  And then I will throw them gradually into the sauce, seeds and all.  I am planning on starting with a couple Hungarians, 3-4 Habeneroes and one ghost.  Adjustments will be made from there.

I will also be throwing the onions and garlic on the fire to char up.  Wrapping the garlic in foil and allowing it to roast will give it a wonderful sweet aspect, without all of the horrible garlic breath.  The onions I will cut in half and let them char in the skins.  Garlic gets cut in half, drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and wrapped in the foil.

Herbs will be added fresh from the garden.  Parsley, thyme and oregano.  Don’t put too oregano in, otherwise you will end up with really hot spaghetti sauce, and that’s not what we want.  Understand though, I am making ALOT of  sauce.  So whatever amounts I mention would be for a boatload and a half of hot sauce.

I really want a great smoky flavor to the sauce.  The addition of amazing smoked paprika (another pepper) and this unbelievable hickory smoked salt is going to boost that smokiness.  I purchased both of these from one of my favorite Amish stores.

After everything has cooked for a while, but not too much, I will run it through this, a food mill.  If you have one of these, you do not need to worry about peeling your tomatoes, which is nothing short of a royal, and I mean really royal pain in the ass.  Everything simply gets milled through, which also leaves a bit of texture but removes all seeds, stems, and other stuff that you may not want in your sauce.

I’ve spent days gathering bottles for this project.  Many, many bottles.  Everything from Chambord liquor bottles to old sauce bottles.  I have gathered about 30 bottles… I plan on filling every single one of them, if not more.  They will be given to co-workers and stored away for winter.  Homemade hot sauce is really great on fried or scrambled eggs, or home fries, french fries… whatever.

Some other additions will include carrots, celery, brown sugar and vinegar.  But that stuff isn’t terribly exciting.  Although my carrots from the garden do come in a variety of colors.Tomorrow I will begin to make the sauce.  I promise lots of pictures and the finished product!

Cranberry Pie – 1896

Seeing as fall is coming up quicker than we’d like to acknowledge, I will be searching through for some great recipes for the upcoming Holiday season and colder weather.  Cranberries seem to be an essentially fall weather flavor.  While everyone has heard of the standard cranberry jelly, I was thrilled and intrigued by this recipe for cranberry pie.  This is another recipe from the handwritten 1896 cookbook I purchased from a yard sale.  These kind of cookbooks make my day.

Cranberry Pie

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup sugar

1 heaping tablespoon flour

1 cup of water

Pie shell

There are no directions with this recipe.  Therefore, I would combine the water, berries, raisins, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the berries begin to pop open and release their juice and color.  Dissolve the tablespoon of flour into 2 tablespoons of water and add to the boiling mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Continue to simmer until it begins to thicken.  Pour into pie shell and bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes or until set.  You could also combine some oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and butter and make a crumb topping for this pie, which would be very good.

Cranberry Puff Pudding – 1896

This was a clipped recipe, attached with an old straight pin into the 1896 cookbook.  Another cookbook that I purchased with this group is from Bowling Green, OH… and there are many pages of advertisements in it.  Whomever had purchased the book had glued or pinned clipped recipes onto these ad pages.  Which only made sense, since it was a cookbook, and I am assuming the advertisements meant nothing to Suzie Q. Homemaker in those days.  

This recipe utilizes more cranberries.  I would use fresh before I attempted this with frozen cranberries.  This bready pudding would be best served with a good vanilla bean ice cream, or fresh whipped cream that was lightly sweetened.

Cranberry Puff Pudding

One egg beaten light, one cupful of sweet milk in which dissolve one teaspoonful of soda, one heaping teaspoonful of cream of tartar sifted and thoroughly mixed with two cupfuls of flour and a little salt; add one cupful of cranberries, and steam one and a quarter hours. Serve with your favorite sauce.

Oat Crackers – 1896

These sound yummy, and there would be many possibilities for changing these up.  By adding herbs and spices, you could make these sweet or savory.  Great with soups, or with cheese.  You could also use wheat flour in an attempt to make them healthier.  Use a round cookie or biscuit cutter, or cut into strips.  Make wonderful animal crackers with your favorite cookie cutters for your kids as well.  The key to these is to leave them in long enough to brown well.  They are crispy!  And make sure you roll them as thin as possible.

Oat Crackers

2 cups flour

2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening or butter

1 teaspoon soda dissolved in

1/2 cupful of boiling water

Combine all ingredients and bring together into a dough.  Roll very thin.  Cut into whatever shape preferred.  You will need to bake these in a very hot oven, 425-450 for 12-15 minutes.  I always use silicone baking sheets.  If you do not have at least one, go to your nearest kitchen store and get one.  They will save you much frustration and it’s almost impossible to burn a cookie on them!  And nothing will stick to them as well.

Some suggestions would be to add rosemary to the dough, or red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, any type of citrus peel, grated cheese could also be added, but I would reduce the flour a little bit, maybe 1/4 cup for 1/2 cup of cheese.  I will have to make some of these myself to test them out!

Good Plain Dessert – 1870

Here is a good moldy oldie from the South Side Signal (Babylon) January 15, 1870 newspaper.  No big fancy name for this one… just Good Plain Dessert.  The basis of the dessert is molasses.  Earthy and very sticky, this looks something akin to tar if you have “blackstrap” but there are many varieties available, including pomegranate, light and others.

Good Plain Dessert

Boil a pint of molasses until it thickens considerably.  Prepare some light bread cut about one half inch in thickness; butter one side thinly; dip the bread into the boiled syrup as you would in making milk toast; arrange the slices one above the other on a small platter.  Serve warm.